Kristin Treado is tired.
The mother of three has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of the nation’s capital, for 25 years. She spends her days hopping on public transport, heading to her part-time retail job in the district, running errands, grocery shopping and taking care of her kids after they come home from school.
But her daily schedule isn’t the issue that’s weighing Treado down. The 50-year-old voter says she has never experienced a presidency in her life quite like that of Donald Trump – and his administration is causing her to constantly worry about the state of global affairs.
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“I used to think I could count on checking out of politics for a day or two, and the world would go on as normal,” she says. “I didn’t exactly like George W Bush, and we even got into wars with him, but I wasn’t necessarily concerned every waking moment that he was going to melt the country or nuke North Korea.”
Fortunately for Treado, there’s hope. She says she has been excited by the 2020 campaign trail, and that – while she liked several candidates running to unseat the incumbent president – she is currently throwing her support behind one in particular: Elizabeth Warren.
“This will sound like such a canned answer, but I like that she has a plan for everything,” Treado says.
A longtime Democratic voter, Treado notes that she hasn’t always been entirely in step with the party and has previously voted for Republicans in her district.
“I don’t always agree with all of her plans,” Treado adds about her support for Warren. “But I like that she has a plan, and a focus, and a response for the issues.”
Healthcare, education and immigration reform are all issues Treado says she is focused on. But there is one thing above all that she’d been hoping the candidates would tackle – an issue that Warren has now made a central focus of her campaign: “We can’t address the economy in this country without talking about the extreme economic inequality.”
Warren has unveiled a sweeping range of policy initiatives to expand economic opportunities for America’s middle class. She has also shared her own family story of living payday to payday while her mother worked a minimum-wage job answering phones at Sears.
“That minimum-wage job saved our home, and it saved our family,” Warren has said along the campaign trail. “My mother got a minimum-wage job at a time in America when a minimum-wage job would support a family of three… Today, a minimum-wage job in America will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty.”
Her focus on economic inequality has been described by some as “relentless”, and she’s continued making the case for her bold objectives nationwide with a unique approach: proposing an ultra-millionaire wealth tax.
Under Warren’s plan, millionaires will pay a 2 per cent tax on every dollar of their net worth over $50m (£38m), while billionaires will pay a 6 per cent tax on all net worth above $1bn. Her campaign website reads: “Because wealth is so concentrated, this small tax on roughly 75,000 households will bring in $3.75 trillion in revenue over a 10-year period.”
That would allow Warren to pay for some of her other programmes aimed at expanding resources and opportunities for the working class, from quadrupling funding for public education to providing universal healthcare.
For Treado, the plan is to vote for whichever candidate eventually grabs the Democratic nomination: “I will walk on shattered glass for any of them,” she quips.
She mentions Pete Buttigieg, the millennial mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would become the first openly gay president if he were elected, but notes how he has failed to gain “mass appeal” while struggling with minority voters. Treado then addressed the issue of electability – which she said may prove to be an obstacle for Warren as well.
“We can’t discount how the rest of America would look at … whether an openly gay man can be president, or a woman can be president, we obviously are not beyond those conversations,” she says. “I wish we were.”
But when I ask about Bernie Sanders, she lets out a laugh, followed by a deep sigh.
“I have a lot of feelings about Bernie Sanders,” Treado begins. “Most of them are positive. As a person. I like senator Sanders – I enjoyed his voice in the 2016 election and I thought he moved the conversation in the Democratic primaries in a way that was good.”
Treado adds that, while she ultimately voted for Hillary Clinton and was “excited by her candidacy”, she voted for Sanders in the Maryland Democratic primaries.
“But I was not enthused with how things went after Clinton secured the nomination,” she says.
Treado suggests the Vermont senator did not do enough to help bring his voters to the polls for Clinton, and says she herself faced “hostility” from Sanders’ supporters – sometimes called “Bernie Bros” – whenever she posted about Clinton online.
“There’s only so much you can take from, typically, men who want to tell me I’m stupid,” she says.
And that’s when I found out what is really wearing Treado out.
“Will I regret saying this?” she says, laughing again. “I’m tired of old white men telling me what to do.”
Polarized is a weekly series featuring Americans from all 50 states sharing their views on the 2020 elections. Click here if you would like to be a part of this project